Bangladesh rejected offers of search and rescue teams from Britain and other countries to free people trapped during last week’s catastrophic factory collapse in Savar, The Daily Telegraph, a UK daily newspaper, reported on Sunday. More than 370 people died when the eight-story Rana Plaza building crumbled into a vast pile of rubble on Wednesday. Teams of ill-equipped local rescuers have been sifting through mountains of wreckage for survivors, said the report.
Foreign offers to provide experienced disaster rescue teams, which could potentially have saved more lives, were turned down last week, diplomatic sources said.
Documents seen by The Daily Telegraph indicate both Bangladesh’s foreign and home ministries rejected the offers because they feared that accepting aid would damage national pride. The documents disclose a diplomatic campaign to persuade Bangladeshi officials to accept the assistance, and “face-saving” suggestions on keeping it low-key to avoid offending Bangladeshi sensitivities.
When United Nations (UN) officials became aware of the large numbers of people trapped under the rubble, consultations were held with Western diplomats to assess whether Bangladesh had the wherewithal to mount an effective rescue operation. They decided it did not, and approached several governments, including Britain’s, to identify which could send teams of rescuers and heavy lifting equipment.
“The UN has underlined that the needed search and rescue support, including the UK contribution, is available from the international community, but this has been rejected,” one official said.
A spokesman for Britain’s Department for International Development confirmed it had offered “specialist technical advice” which Bangladesh had rejected.
-With The Independent input